Student-Run Prefect Program Vital to Freshman Experience

To the editors:

As a former proctor and director of the prefect program, I support the creation of an academic peer advising system for Harvard College but fear the best elements of the prefect program will be lost with its demise (“College Pulls Plug On Prefects,” news, Mar. 7).

Good prefects forged relationships among freshmen in their entryway, facilitated the connection between older proctors and young freshmen, and provided an invaluable link between the Yard and the Houses. In addition, the program managed a series of Yard-wide, late-night, alcohol-free activities designed to give freshmen something fun to do. In December 2003, the prefect program hosted “Harvard Idol,” which attracted more than 500 sober freshmen at midnight on three consecutive Saturdays.

These aspects of the program were successful precisely because they were student-driven. The program was not beholden to the bulging bureaucracy of University Hall. Returning prefects, not College administrators, selected and supported new prefects as peer mentors; engaged students, not detached adults, attempted to create some semblance of a social life in the Yard.

To many freshmen, life on the Yard is purgatory, for reasons no curricular reform can address. Good prefects, as much as anyone, improved the experience of freshmen, and they will be missed.


Andover, Mass.

March 7, 2006